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Can Ipswich see incredible start through to promotion? Interview
Thursday, 28th Dec 2023 13:29 by Clive Whittingham

Ipswich have in excess of 100 points and 100 goals from their 2023, but a heavy defeat at in form Leeds has some questioning whether they can see their promotion through - Phil Ham from our TWTD sister site gives us the latest from Portman Road.

Please bear in mind that watching QPR is like going to have your dog put down three times a week at the moment, but as nicely as you can, can you tell us how the season has gone for Ipswich so far?

As brilliantly as anyone could possibly have dreamed, Saturday aside. If you’d have said we’d be second in the Championship, seven points clear of third at this point in the season in the summer - let alone last Christmas when our League One promotion push was stumbling a little - I’m not anyone would have believed it. I think most of us felt we’d do well enough and would be challenging for the play-offs but the season so far has surpassed all expectations.

Ipswich in the league so far..
Sunderland 1-2 Ipswich Neill 86 – Broadhead 45, Hirst 53
Ipswich 2-0 Stoke Woolfenden 23, Jackson 81
QPR 0-1 Ipswich Chaplin 75
Ipswich 3-4 Leeds Rodon og 7, Broadhead 45, Chaplin 90 – Rutter 10, Gnonto 14, Piroe 19, Sinisterra 75
Ipswich 3-2 Cardiff Broadhead 59, Ladapo 68, 78 – Ramsey 30, Ralls 52
Sheff Wed 0-1 Ipswich Chaplin 45
Southampton 0-1 Ipswich Hutchinson 30
Ipswich 4-3 Blackburn Clarke 4, Broadhead 18, Hirst 25, Luongo 79 – Sigurdsson 9, Clarke og 52, Szmodics 65
Huddersfield 1-1 Ipswich Burgzorg 61 – Williams 87
Ipswich 3-0 Hull Burns 5, Chaplin 41, Harness 65
Ipswich 4-2 Preston Chaplin 18, Williams 35, Broadhead 45, Jackson 78 – Frokjaer 27, Whiteman 52
Bristol City 0-1 Ipswich Broadhead 16
Ipswich 3-2 Plymouth Mumba og 45, Hirst 54, Harness 86 – Whittaker 7, Edwards 90
Birmingham 2-2 Ipswich Stansfield 13, Burgess og 51 – Harness 79, 89
Rotherham 2-2 Ipswich Nombe 4, Tiehi 90 – Morsy 19, Taylor 87
Ipswich 3-2 Swansea Taylor 17, Chaplin 22, Hirst pen 53 – Fulton 7, Lowe 90
West Brom 2-0 Ipswich Furlong 5, Diangana 47
Ipswich 3-1 Millwall Chaplin 5, Luongo 12, Broadhead 39 – Nisbet 78
Ipswich 2-1 Coventry Hirst 6, Burns 41 – Williams og 90
Boro 0-2 Ipswich Chaplin 36, Hutchinson 67
Watford 1-2 Ipswich Asprilla 12 – Hirst 24, Morsy 80
Ipswich 2-2 Norwich Broadhead 34, Burns 60 – Rowe 40, 49
Leeds 4-0 Ipswich Struijk 8, Davis og 25, Summerville pen 45, Piroe 52
Ipswich 1-1 Leicester Vestergaard og 90 – Mavididi 24

Why have Town been able to continue their momentum from League One and just keep winning in a way other promoted teams haven't, Plymouth and Sheff Wed came up with you, Plymouth finished above you, and yet it's you guys storming it - how and why?

Without being dismissive towards Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday, I think we were simply the best team of the three. Plymouth may have won the title, and over the season deserved the trophy, but from February onwards, once the January signings had bedded in, the run we were on - 13 wins and two draws in our last 15 matches - was just ridiculous. On top of that, the squad was assembled with an eye on being able to compete in the Championship and developing and growing together going forward. I’m not sure the same could be said of Argyle or Wednesday.

What does Kieran McKenna do differently? There must be something pretty substantial?

I don’t think it’s any one thing. He’s instilled an entertaining, attacking style of play which the squad quickly bought into. The players have regularly talked about him being the best coach they have ever worked and that training is never allowed to become dull or routine. A lot of work is done in the classroom with the squad and he has an obsessive attention to detail. He’s very much the new generation of coach, somewhat more academic and cerebral than certain members of the previous generation.

Any rumours for January? What needs doing to press home this brilliant opportunity?

Jay Stansfield is a player who McKenna has liked for a couple of windows. We were keen in the summer of 2022 but opted to loan Tyreece John-Jules instead at that point. However, if Fulham are prepared to let him go this January, Town are again interested and at the moment Portman Road seems a better place for him to develop than Birmingham at present.

Another central striker was an obvious priority even before Tottenham indicated they’re probably going to recall Dane Scarlett, who in any case had hardly played. The workload on George Hirst has been heavy with Freddie Ladapo and Kayden Jackson behind him in the pecking order not up to the same standard.

Aside from that, we might look to add to the options behind Hirst, while central midfield might be another area looked at to compete with Sam Morsy and Massimo Luongo for a starting spot with those two currently very much the first choice. But, having been in League One last season and with aspirations towards promotion to the Premier League, if they find players who are better than the ones in the side already, then they’d look at them whatever the position.

Ins >>> Jack Taylor, 25, CM, Peterborough, £1.5m >>> George Hirst, 24, CF, Leicester, £1.5m >>> Cieren Slicker, 20, GK, Man City, Undisclosed >>> Axel Tuanzebe, 25, CB, Unattached, Free >>> Omari Hutchinson, 19, AM, Chelsea, Loan >>> Brandon Williams, 22, LB, Man Utd, Loan >>> Dane Scarlett, 19, CF, Spurs, Loan

Outs >>> Greg Leigh, 28, LB, Oxford, Undisclosed >>> Joe Pigott, 29, CF, Orient, Free >>> Rakeem Harper, 23, AM, Burton, Free >>> Joel Coleman, 27, GK, Bolton, Free >>> Kane Vincent-Young, 27, RB, Wycombe, Free >>> Richard Keogh, 36, CB, Wycombe, Free >>> Panutche Camara, 26, CM, Charlton, Loan >>> Idris El Mizouni, 22, CM, Orient, Loan >>> Tete Yengi, 22, CF, KUPS (Finland), Loan >>> Corrie Ndaba, 23, CB, Kilmarnock, Loan >>> Gassan Ahadme, 22, CF, Cambridge, Loan >>> Kyle Edwards, 25, LW, Oxford, Loan >>> Nick Hayes, 24, GK, Southend, Loan >>> Matt Penney, 25, LB, Released

Particular strong points in this team? Player of the season so far?

Vaclav Hladký has probably been the story of the season. Last year he was the sub keeper, playing only seven minutes in League One when he was brought off the bench in the 6-0 home win against Exeter which confirmed promotion. Then, Christian Walton got injured right at the end of pre-season, the Czech got his chance and has been brilliant. So comfortable is he with his feet, that it’s like having an outfield player in goal, enhancing the way we play, bravely out from the back.

Any weak links? You're not shy of conceding, Bristol City and Coventry have a better defensive record, so any worries that could come and haunt you should the goals dry up slightly?

We do concede a few goals, that is true, but I think that’s a result of our overall front foot approach and we’ve shown that invariably we will outscore the opposition even if we do concede one, or on some occasions, two.

Will you see this through? Is it Prem next year for you guys? Head on the line…

The heart says yes, obviously, but I suspect Leeds and Southampton behind us will probably prove too strong over the course of a season. I think we’ve seen before that relegated Premier League sides grow as seasons progress and eventually dip over the line at the end.

Having said that, we’ve put ourselves in a great position with a remarkable first half of the season and if we can have as good a January transfer window as we did last year, then we could well do it. Consistency will be the key. If we can keep beating the mid-table sides and teams in the lower reaches more regularly than the two chasing us, then that would stand us in very good stead. An even if we don’t make the top two, I think we’d have a decent chance in the play-offs.

Links >>> Ipswich Town Official Website >>> Ipswich Star – Local Press >>> East Anglian Daily Times – Local Press >>> TWTD – Blog and Forum >>> Talking Town – Podcast

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TacticalR added 16:11 - Dec 28
Thanks to Phil.

This is so different from what we are currently experiencing it's like something from a different world. From what I have seen of Ipswich they are a very attacking team, and that seems to have worked well in a division without a lot of flair.

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